Gottman-Rapoport Conflict Blueprint

Gottman-Rapoport Conflict Blueprint


conflict blueprint

In every conflict there are two different views. These views are rooted in our perception of our partners, our relationship, and the conflict. The most effective way to use conflict as a catalyst for closeness is to slow way down and understand each partners position. Doing this requires both partners to take on responsibilities that will allow the conflict to be understood before finding a solution.

Step 1: Understanding

Set-up: Each person takes turn as a speaker and listener.

Being a speaker requires a mental transformation. Here are the Speaker’s Responsibilities:

  • No blaming or “you” statements. Instead focus on
  • Talking about your feelings by
  • Using “I statements” about a specific situation and
  • State your positive need. Remember that behind every negative emotion there is a longing, and a wish, and therefore a recipe for your partner to be successful with you. That is your positive need. What do you want and need from your partner?

Being a Listener requires a mental transformation as well. Here are the Listener’s Responsibilities:

  • Don’t respond defensively. instead
  • Postpone your own agenda until it’s your turn to talk by
  • Hearing and repeating your interpretation of the speaker’s needs and perspective when they are done speaking
  • Do this by hearing the ways the speaker is impacted by this conflict
  • Now validate the speaker by saying something like “It makes perfect sense to me that you would feel that way and have these needs, because…
  • Ask questions to get greater clarity of your partner and why they feel the way they do

Add the Rapoport assumption of similarity.

We often perceive our partner as dissimilar to us. In conflict we often see ourselves as having all the positive qualities and our partner as having few of these, or as the one with negative traits.  It’s the whole“I’m okay you’re defective,” mentality.

The problem is that mentality closes you off from resolving the solution because you’re not taking responsibility for your half of the conflict. The way to shortcut this is when you identify a negative quality in your partner, try to see that very quality in yourself. When you identify a positive quality in yourself, try to see that very quality in your partner

Set a timer for 10 minutes and give the speaker the floor. 10 minutes is enough time for the speaker to discuss their view of the situation, but also not too much time that the listener mentally checks out.


Listener: Are you feeling flooded? Practice self-soothing. Breathe. Take a break of at least 20 minutes and focus on your partner’s positive traits.

Remember: Postpone persuasion until each person can state their partner’s position to their partner’s satisfaction.

Step 2: Problem Solving & Compromising

After you have each had a turn to talk, take 5 to 10 minutes to yourself and create two circles like so:

conflict blueprint


  1. Core Need: Aspects of the issue that you are unwilling to give up on because it will violate your basic needs or core values. Try to make this section as small as possible.
  2. Areas of flexibility: Parts of the issue where you can be flexible. Try to make this section as large as possible.

The goal is to identifying each of your core needs and understand why they are core. Communicate this to your partner. Make sure they understand you by using step one above.  Then identify areas of your own flexibility and do the same thing.

Now compromise!


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